*Note as of sometime in late 2021 or 2022, the last of the buildings have been torn down.
History of Santa's Land
In Santa Claus, Arizona, sits a former Christmas themed park. In 1937, realtor Nina Talbot came up with the idea to help with the sale of nearby 80 acres of land that she had purchased and hoped to develop into multiple plots for family homes. Her idea was to create a winter wonderland in the middle of the desert. The town’s post office was billed as “Santa’s Workshop”. Kids could even send letters to Santa to that post office’s address. Christmas trees were planted all along the site. They installed cutouts of elves and other characters as well.
She ran the park for the next 12 years, but it never developed into the full theme park that she had dreamed of. She would sell the site as an “attraction” in 1949. For the next few years, Santa’s Land would still draw attention as a novelty stop along the famous Route 66. The park had the Christmas Tree Inn (which was somewhat popular and hosted a party by actress Jane Russell), and a gift shop. The park was even mentioned in a 1961 issue of Popular Mechanics (a popular magazine at the time). The most notable feature of the town, was that Santa Claus, Arizona was the destination for your letter’s to Santa by the US Postal Service.
Abandoned Santa's Land - What Happened?
Santa Claus and Santa’s Land remained a themed attraction until it was abandoned, with the last of the attractions closing in the mid 1990s. It would draw interested from travelers passing through, it was just a short stop, and didn’t have the draw for extended stays. There was also no interest in living there, except for those who worked at the park. In 2003, the population of Santa Claus, Arizona was just 10 people.
The site would site abandoned and neglected. The harsh desert weather and vandalism would take its toll on the buildings, including being covered in graffiti, broken windows, and theft.
Santa's Land Photos
When I visited the site around 2020, not much was left. The tiny train had been removed, and most of the buildings were empty and covered in graffiti.